Interview with Al Jean of "The Simpsons" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Al Jean, The Simpsons Producer

I missed this call, but I was happy to get the transcript and read about all of the great things coming up on the Simpsons!

 The Simpsons Conference Call
September 24, 2008/12:00 p.m. EDT


SPEAKERS
Al Jean

MEDIA
Daniel Feinberg Ė Zap2it.com
Jim Halterman Ė FutonCritic.com
Troy Rogers Ė Deadbolt.com
Marissa Karpeko Ė Us Weekly
Tara Bennett Ė Newsarama
April MacIntyre Ė Monsters and Critics
Hal Boedeker Ė The Orlando Sentinel
Fred Topel Ė CanMag.com
Meredith Warner Ė i09
Bill Keveney Ė USA Today
Jenna Wortham Ė Wired.com
Joshua Malone Ė Niagara Frontier
Rita Sherrow Ė Tulsa World

PRESENTATION
Moderator Ladies and gentlemen thank you for standing by, and welcome to The Simpsons conference call. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session with instructions to be given at that time. As a reminder, this teleconference is being recorded. At this time, I will turn the call over to our host, Mr. Al Jean. Please go ahead, sir.

Al Hello, Iím Al Jean, Executive Producer, and head writer of The Simpsons, and I just wanted to say that weíre going into our 20th season, which premieres September 28th, and this is a record-setting season, it ties us with Gunsmoke as the longest running entertainment show in the history of television. Additionally, we just won the Emmy Award for outstanding animated program.

Moderator Are you ready for questions at this time?

W Yes.

Moderator Thank you. Our first question will come from Daniel Feinberg with Zap2it.com. Your line is open.

Daniel Hello, Al, thank you for doing this call.

Al My pleasure.

Daniel My question regards the shows political aspect. I feel like, in the past couple of years, it has been more contemporary and overt in specifically addressing the things in the current administration. Is that a fair feeling?

Al Well, the one thing about politics in our show is we have to do the show about a year in advance, so we canít do jokes like The Tonight Show or The Daily Show. Whatís ironic is I was running the show after 9/11 and at that time, people said to me, you can never make fun of the President again, and I thought, really, he might do something funny in the next three to seven years, certainly, he has.

What I think what has been beneficial to us about the way we produce the show is that we have done things, that I think if you watch the show from four years ago, it still holds up. We donít take inconsistent positions that you might do if you have to give an opinion every day on what you think.

Daniel But is that something youíve been thinking about consciously in recent years? Has the writerís room been a more politicized writerís room?

Al Well, I think the countryís more politicized, or at least the politics are more us versus them than they were 20 years ago when the show started. There was a broader middle, and I think right now, I donít need to tell you, itís very divided. I think we try to reflect life so I think thatís what happens.

Daniel Sure, thank you.

Moderator Thank you, our next question in queue comes from the line of Jim Halterman with FutonCritic.com. Your line is open.

Jim Hello, Al, thank you so much for this.

Al Thank you, I enjoy your Website.

Jim Thank you. I want to know, since youíve been with The Simpsons pretty much from the beginning, right?

Al Yes, since it became a half-hour series in 1989.

Jim Okay, in your opinion, how do you think the world of animation has changed, either TV or film, have you seen a lot of changes in those 20-odd years?

Al I love animation, I think it has been a golden age in both film and TV. The biggest technological change has been the influence of computers. When we started, it was hand-drawn animation in films only, and now, hand-drawn animation, we were one of the last movies ever.

The other thing that has happened is television Ė even though there were shows in primetime in the past, like the Flintstones, I donít really think they were aimed at adults, I think they were aimed mostly at children. Iím not saying we tried to have risquť content, per se, although that is partly the case, but we have aimed our show at the adult audience and done things that we think are smarter. The kids wonít necessarily get it, but theyíll watch because of the forum.

Jim As far as all the celebrities youíve had on the show, is there anybody you just have never been able to get for whatever reason, either in the past or currently?

Al Yes, itís one group, itís U.S. Presidents. Weíve tried to get them going back to Ė I think Richard Nixon was actually the first when he was still alive. Theyíve all said no. Ronald Regan, or his assistant, wrote us a very polite no, but that was the closest we got.

Jim Okay, thank you so much, good luck this season.

Al Thank you.

Moderator Thank you and our next question in queue comes from Troy Rogers with Deadbolt.com. Your line is open.

Troy Hello, Al, thank you for doing the call, and congratulations on the Emmy.

Al Thank you, weíre very happy.

Troy This is the 20th season, right?

Al Going into it, yes.

Troy So you guys are just trying to stay ahead of Law & Order, now?

Al You know, I hate to admit it; we actually do count episodes. I think weíre about 12 ahead of them. They started a little later and they do slightly fewer per year. In number of episodes, weíre ahead of them, but weíre still behind Lassie and Gunsmoke, and Gunsmoke did 600, they used to do 40 a year, so thatís a tough one, we are up to 445 in terms of records.

Troy Thatís quite a lot. Speaking of that, youíve been doing the show for a very long time. How do you stay interested? Does it just become a job now?

Al No, itís never just a job and itís a great job. What keeps me interested is when you see something that is a good idea, youíre able to take the writing staff and translate it into something that is funny and a pleasure to watch. Itís the greatest way to vent what you feel about life, itís just a wonderful place to be, and Iím really happy to be there.

Troy One more quick thing. You mentioned it takes about a year to flip one of these over.

Al It does, between the original concept and the final airing. In the early years, there was a show where we did a joke about the Soviet Union and before the show was completed, the Soviet Union broke up.

Troy Thatís why I was curious about. Is it frustrating for you that you probably canít do something about Sarah Palin right now?

Al You know, itís not because, again, I donít know what people are going to think about her in six months. She may not even be in office as Vice President. Iíve already seen since that Tina Fey sketch, which was I thought was very funny, a big flip in the last week in terms of what people think. We prefer to do things that you can watch five years later and still appreciate them and not think, what was that in reference to.

Troy Thank you, Al.

Al Thank you.

Moderator Thank you and our next question in queue will come from Marissa Karpeko with Us Weekly. Your line is open.

Marissa Hello, Al. About celebrities, Iíve heard that you have Anne Hathaway, Jodie Foster, and Seth Rogen already down for this season.

Al Thatís true and this week, we also recorded Alan Page.

Marissa Oh and you recorded Alan Page this week.

Al Yes, I can announce that now.

Marissa Would you be able to tell me a little more about what each of them are doing with the show?

Al Jodie Foster Ė sometimes we do these trilogy episodes, and this one has powerful women through history and we do a parody of The Fountainhead, the Ayn Rand book, where Maggie Simpson is in a preschool where sheís trying to build these beautiful block buildings and the preschool teacher keeps knocking them down because itís too creative. At the end, she goes on trial, like the end of The Fountainhead, and Jodie Foster does Maggieís voice.

Marissa For the big speech at the end like Gary Cooper did, right?

Al Right, and then Anne Hathaway, we do a show where Bart meets a girl who is really sweet and thinks heís really a nice kid and not a brat, so he tries to hide his true identity from her and then she finds out what heís really like and they break up. She was very funny; sheís really hilarious to work with.

Seth Rogen actually co-wrote with Evan Goldberg the episode. The episode that heís in, Comic Book Guy creates a superhero called Everyman, and his power is that any comic book that he touches, he gets the powers of the hero of that comic. They make a move starring Homer and Homer is overweight and doesnít look like a superhero, so Seth Rogen plays a personal trainer who is going to get him in shape.

Moderator Thank you, weíll move on to our next question in queue, which will come from Tara Bennett with Newsarama. Your line is open.

Tara Hello, Al. The ďTreehouse of TerrorĒ, people look forward to that every year. After 19 years of doing all of the horror, are you guys going to have a tough time coming up with that big episode every year, and what can we expect this year?

Al No, in fact this year is a really fun one, it air November 2nd. The opening we do a little thing about the election where Homer tries to vote for Obama, but the machine keeps changing it to McCain and then finally kills him.

We do a satire of the fact that they can take dead celebrities, put them in commercials, and do whatever they want, so Homer starts killing living celebrities so they can use them in commercials.

Again, we have a parody for the first time of Itís the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, where our character, The Grand Pumpkin, totally different legally, comes to life and heís so mad at the way humans treat pumpkins that he tries to kill them all.

Tara Excellent, and then, your success of the move, with another Emmy this year, do you guys ever think that there should be an end date for the show or will you keep doing it as long as there is still this kind of popularity for it?

Al Iíll tell you, we signed the cast for four years, including this one, just recently and the Emmy was wonderful, and I really feel, creatively, weíre still doing terrific work and I donít see an end for a while. The movie and the ride were both huge successes, so I think people still really want The Simpsons in their lives.

Tara Thank you so much.

Moderator Thank you, weíll take our next question in queue and that will come from April MacIntyre, with Monsters and Critics. Your line is open.

April Hello, Al, thank you for your time.

Al My pleasure.

April I just watched the new Godfather trilogy, the extras where Joe Mantegna talks extensively about his role on The Simpsons, Fat Tony, and the history of it.

Al Yes, heís been doing it since the beginning, and every time Ė he said, ďIf Fat Tony burps, I want to do it,Ē so heís been doing it for 20 years, and even the film.

April Yes, he said it was his longest running role, he loved it and he talked extensively about it. I wanted to know, for you, who are some of your favorite long-running side characters, maybe some anecdotes, and why.

Al In terms of guest stars like Joe, who is one of them, Iíd say Kelsey Grammer is always just hilarious and can sing really well. Itís so funny to have someone who is trying to kill Bart who is so erudite and smooth, and at the same time violent. Another favorite of all of us was Phil Hartman, once he passed away; we retired his characters because no one could ever do them. Jon Lovitz is always somebody Iíve felt is really Ė he just makes me laugh and he would ad lib so much that youíd try hard not to laugh while you were sitting in the room while they were recording; it was almost impossible. Then of course, characters that are done by our regulars, I love Comic Book Guy, I canít believe Ö on the show, Moe, Krusty, there are so many that you can do a particular show about you almost think you can never run through them.

April I spoke to some editors of friends of mine in London who I talk to quite a bit and I told them I was speaking with you. They said, of any American show, they enjoyed The Simpsons the most and felt more connected to America, Americans, and our culture just by watching that show and enjoying it so much. I was wondering how you felt about the foreign reception of The Simpsons?

Al Well, there are a couple things I think. One thing I think is that overseas, people look at The Simpsons and say thatís a typical American family, so I think thatís one reason we connect with it.

The movie, which did very well here, $180 million, did even better overseas, another $340 million. I think the biggest reason thatís so is that there are families everywhere you go and there are families like The Simpsons. Iíve been in places like Italy and they say, oh yeah, thereís a guy in the kitchen; heís just like Homer.

Itís funny because we work out of this small office, we donít have tapings with an audience, so you forget that the show is seen worldwide all the time. I do think in places like the U.K., itís amazingly popular, whenever I go there; the people are just so nice and appreciate it so much; itís wonderful.

April All right, thank you for your time.

Moderator Thank you, our next question in queue will come from Hal Boedeker with The Orlando Sentinel. Your line is open.

Hal Hello, Al. Hey listen, I wanted to make sure I understood something about The Treehouse of Terror episode. Homer is an Obama supporter?

Al Well, he says itís time for a change, so he actually is going to vote for Obama, then it says one vote for McCain. He tries to hit it again and it says thatís two votes for McCain. He says, ďNo, no, noĒ and he hits it again three times and he says, ďI only meant one of those votes for McCain.Ē Then the machine starts trying to kill him and he says, ďMust warn President McCain.Ē Itís mostly a comment on what many people to believe to be the irregularities in our voting system.

Hal I want to make sure I understood something about the timing. You said you signed the cast for four more years. Is that beyond this season?

Al That includes this coming season and itís an option FOX has on them, so technically the show isnít picked up yet because they donít pick it up four years at a time. The biggest hurdle to any pick up would be signing the cast and thatís done, so Iím optimistic that weíll go through that four-year contract.

Hal Youíre hope then is that the show would run at least 24 years.

Al That would take you through season 23 but there would technically be spillover into the 24th, yes.

Hal Okay, thank you so much.

Al Thank you.

Moderator Thank you and our next question in queue will come from Fred Topel with CanMag.com. Your line is open.

Fred Hello, I was thinking, it has been kind of a while since the last complete season DVD. What are the plans for more Simpsons DVDs?

Al There is one coming out by the end of the year, I believe November, for season 11. Two reasons they slowed down, we were working on some of the other things, so our time was taken up, and also, we had a movie DVD come out and we had the ride at Universal, so we didnít want to overdo how many things there were that had The Simpsons name on them. We really do think itís important to keep the quality up and not saturate the market.

Fred Are you still doing commentaries on every episode? Are there any new types of extras that will be on season 11?

Al Thereís really cool news on it and I wonít say what it is, but itís really impressive. There are, as we always do, commentaries on every episode and many extras. I think itís a terrific package, I think the people that do the DVDs really take a lot of time and give you more than almost any other show DVD gets.

Fred One of the things you guys have been doing in the more recent DVDs is animated menus that are sort of scenes to the episodes on the disc, and those are amazing.

Al Yes, we won awards for the production of the DVDs, so clearly people see the time itís taking to do this.

Fred I have a Super Fan Boy question. One of my favorite episodes is when Lester and Eliza stole Bart and Lisaís thunder and saved the day and they looked like the original Tracy Ullman animation. Why have we never seen them again to thwart Bart and Lisa?

Al Well, we havenít seen them, but we have seen Tracy Ullman style Simpsons. There was a thing where we saw an old photo album where thatís the way they used to look in 1987. We saw them in the show where Homer was being cloned; there was an original Homer. The main thing with those designs is that they really donít look like the characters as they look now, so we tend to try to keep the universe theyíre in real, except for the Halloween shows, to make sure they look the way people are used to them looking now.

Fred Were Lester and Eliza ever intended to recur?

Al No that was a one shot thing.

Fred Finally, everyone loves Spider Pig and youíve done a couple cameos with him. Could we ever see Spider Pig again, or maybe a whole episode devoted to Spider Pig?

Al We might. The biggest thing with the movie was we wanted to make it as a stand-alone, we really hoped that if people had never seen the show, they could enjoy the movie and we also didnít want it to be one of those things where the movie required you to watch the show. We wanted the movie to come to a complete end, but everyone liked Plopper, so weíll try to bring him back. Weíve had cameos and if we have an episode; weíll do it.

Fred Yes, I think everyone knows Spider Pig, so we wouldnít mind if you put him back in the show.

Al No, I think thatís right, I think he was the breath-through character of the movie.

Fred Thank you, Al.

Moderator Thank you, the next line weíll go to is from Meredith Warner with i09, and your line is open.

Meredith Hello, thank you so much for doing this, I have a question. The best thing about The Simpsons is breaking through the fantastic. I was curious, and you mentioned a lot of really great things, but are there going to be any other crazy science fiction moments that weíre going to see in this season?

Al Well, we have an episode that will air in March where Homer has to get some poison to kill some rats in his kitchen, itís a bit like Ratatouille, they make him a meal but itís okay, itís not great, so he wants to kill the rats. He leaves Maggie on the doorstep of a convent where they take her and then it turns into a Da Vinci Code satire where they have some use for Maggie at this convent that may involve world peace and theyíre trying to get Maggie back. It has National Treasure elements in it and thereís this really cool complicated story line. Itís one of the kinds of shows that are like the one that just won the Emmy, a little different, a little more visually stylistic. Iím really looking forward to that one.

Meredith Also, the one episode that really stands out is when you brought The Simpsons characters into the real world. That was many years ago, but always stuck out in my head as this crazy idea. Do you think thereís any chance of anything like that ever happening again, new technology being applied so it looks totally different?

Al If we had any comedic premise, if it was something we hadnít done before, like the 3-D Halloween show, I thought was unbelievable, it was just really great. On the other hand, they did pretty much what youíd want to do with that. We always try to use things as they come along, so whenever something has a good comedic purpose, weíll use it.

Meredith Okay, thank you.

Moderator Thank you, our next question in queue will come from the line of Bill Keveney with USA Today. Please go ahead.

Bill Hello, Al, how are you doing?

Al Hello, Bill.

Bill With going into a 24th season, do you keep track of Gunsmoke and Lassie and think about passing those guys?

Al Iím ashamed to admit we do. In terms of season numbers, Gunsmoke had the record and weíre tied now with 20. In terms of episodes produced, they used to do 40 a year, Gunsmoke has over 600 and Lassie has over 500, which is amazing, I donít know how many stories you can on a dog. We just recorded 445, so we still have a little ways to go.

Bill That gets you by Ozzie and Harriet, I think.

Al Just about, by Ozzie and Harriet, weíre by Bonanza. Itís just those two ahead of us, but itís pretty far.

Bill Well, but itís possible the way youíre going.

Al If we do go through that season 24 that would take us over 500 episodes, so I donít know. I mean, itís funny, the show has won 24 Emmyís but the last one we won a week ago, itís funny how much excitement that generates, its like, Hey, youíre good, yeah, we are.

Bill Speaking of the characters, have you guys Ė other shows do it and youíve made fun of it on a couple episodes, have you ever had any thoughts about spinning off a character?

Al There was talk of it and the decision was that would be very difficult to do as the same time as the show and that we preferred to put our energy into doing the movie and the ride. I personally much prefer that, I like the show having such a wide universe and not splitting it. I never liked when they took Fish and moved him off Barney Miller and those things always just seemed like they were the loopholes. I just like doing new media where we can just go in and kind of make fun of it and do The Simpsons take on it, as opposed to splitting what we have.

Bill Okay, because you guys seem to Ė certain characters seem to get bigger roles. Ned Flanders, both in the movie and on the show, you guys seem to have a lot of fun with him, maybe itís religion and society or whatever, but some of them seem to get bigger over time.

Al Ned is somebody you love to write him for a couple reasons. One is heís very nice, which is an unusual character on television and then the way he talks, that diddily-doodley kind of thing, itís really just fun to pitch in the room. I have to give credit to Harry Shearer; itís just a great character. I think that heís funny but you also really like Flanders and thatís one of the best things about the show, we may satirize religion, but I actually think youíd rather have Ned for a neighbor than Homer. Thereís actually a show weíre doing this coming year where the Simpsons home gets foreclosed and Ned buys it, rents it back to them, and Homer keeps taking advantage of him to do all these repairs because now Ned is their landlord. Ned gets fed up and evicts them, but then he feels badly and lets them back in. It turned out really, really sweet.

Bill Okay, because you did have a Ned Flanders theme song years back.

Al We did, yes, everybody loves Ned Flanders. That was actually because the show was short so we filled it in with an extra 30-second bit and if weíre short again, itís something we would definitely do. We did a Cletus on, too, where Cletus was stuck with a vehicle.

Bill Oh, yeah, well thank you very much, Al, and good luck.

Al Thank you, Bill, good to talk to you again.

Moderator Thank you, the next question in queue will come from the line of Jenna Wortham with Wired.com, and your line is open.

Jenna Hello, Al, thank you so much for doing the call.

Al My pleasure.

Jenna Given the success of The Simpsons movie domestically and internationally, I was wondering if it were something youíd ever consider doing a follow up to, or a second Simpsons movie. Is that something we can expect down the line?

Al We definitely would love to do it if we had a script we believed in as much as the first one, but that script took four years to do and that was after it took a while to make a deal with the cast. My preference would be, because it was so much work to do both the show and the movie simultaneously, to wait until whatever that day is when the show is done, and to do another movie. I think it will probably happen, but weíre just now working on it now. To me, nothing is more important than making the show as good as it can be.

Jenna Great, thank you so much.

Moderator Thank you. Next, weíll go to Joshua Malone with Niagara Frontier, your line is open.

Joshua Hello, Al, thank you for your time today.

Al My pleasure.

Joshua Iím a little late to the call, so I apologize if youíve already answered this. When you look at the other cartoons that have followed The Simpsons, shows like South Park or Family Guy, in my estimation, theyíre funny, but a lot of times, they have to resort to the lowest common denominator. Iím just wondering with The Simpsons, it has always been a smart show; it has always been a fresh, clever show. Why is that important and how have you been able to do that for this long?

Al I appreciate the way of looking at it. From the beginning, I remember saying the same thing; we are going to write a show for adults, weíre not going to cut a joke because kids wouldnít understand it even though itís animated. We always try to be smart and connect with human emotions and Iím not saying those other shows donít. Itís a golden age for TV animation and feature animation, which is really exciting to me because I love the forum. We have done things, maybe in the beginning that were more outrageous in terms of content or language, but the thing that has been true from the beginning is that we have just tried to do something that intelligently depicts the challenges facing a family. That has always been sort of the star that we follow.

Joshua Great, thank you, Al.

Moderator Thank you and we do have a follow-up question in queue from the line of Fred Topel with CanMag.com. Please go ahead.

Fred Hello, again, I was just thinking, sometimes, to talk about a golden age of The Simpsons, how do you feel about that label, and after 20 years, do you think there have been other phases the show has gone into?

Al In the last three years weíve won two Emmys for outstanding animated program and then Kelsey Grammer actually won one and I think, I donít know what age this is, but thatís a lot of gold. Weíve won almost every other award this year that weíve been up for, like the Peopleís Choice Award, or the Prism Award. I feel itís a really good show, Iím not interested in dividing the eras, having been there at all points of the show, I know at every time, all youíre trying to do is just do a great script. There is no consciousness, exactly, of an era as much as just trying to make that next table read as good as possible.

Fred I remember when I saw Lisa pick up the Ultimate Simpson Guide to Everything episode guidebook, I thought, wow, this is more self-referential than ever.

Al Yes, we do things like that to reward people who are fans who love the show. Itís funny, too, because as you said, some people say, oh, seasons one through eight were the golden age. That was the first book and I have always thought that had we made that book like seasons one through twelve, they would have said that was the golden age. It was really delineated by the book.

Fred It seems like now that you have so much history, you have even more to build off of than current episodes.

Al We do and the great thing is just when you get an idea for an episode, we have a great staff. Once you have the original concept, then itís really a pleasure to see how it turns into an episode, Iím always amazed by the process.

Fred Great, thank you, Al.

Moderator Thank you, next weíll go to Hal Boedeker with The Orlando Sentinel, your line is open.

Hal Al, you talked about other guest stars, is there anyone you havenít talked about today that youíre particularly proud of, a plot, something youíd like to call attention to?

Al Are you talking about upcoming?

Hal Yes.

Al Let me think of the ones I havenít mentioned yet. We do a show where Moe meets a woman on the Internet, sheís really beautiful, and she actually thinks Moe looks okay. Heís really nervous, they meet face to face and it turns out, sheís three feet tall. He loves her, heís nervous about what his friends will say, and it actually became a very sweet, wonderful episode.

We also have one where The Simpsons go to Ireland and Homer and Grandpa go to this bar that Grandpa went to 40 years ago and it was the happiest night of his life. They get drunk, they buy the bar, and then they find, as it turns out, in Ireland, pubs arenít so popular anymore because you canít smoke in them, so theyíre really up a creek. We just had Kenneth Branagh to record; heís the pub owner that sells them the pub, and Kenneth Branagh is actually Irish, so he was really nice and really great, of course.

Hal Who plays the woman, the short woman?

Al Tress MacNeille, who does many of our regular characters like Agnes Skinner.

Hal Have you seen The Simpsons ride in Orlando?

Al I worked on it, and they have one in Hollywood too, pretty similar.

Hal Iím just wondering: is it living up to your expectations?

Al I actually came in late in the process and I thought it exceeded what I hoped for; I love rides, I love Disneyland, I love Universal, I have ridden every ride in those two parks. I think, right now, itís the longest wait time for any ride at Universal and you can just see people coming out really happy. It took a lot of attention, and again, it was many of the writers that work on the show, it took a lot of attention to detail and putting little references to different things all through the ride. Even if youíre waiting, itís interesting, and the actual dynamic of the ride itself, I think, is fantastic. Iím really proud of it, as we all are.

Hal I wanted to make sure I understood something else you said. Another movie you think is possible, but probably not until after the series would end.

Al I always have to be careful because if I say yes I think there will be one then people say, Simpsons sequel announced. Itís not being worked on at the moment, however, I think it will happen, but I think Ė it was really, honestly, at the end it was like 7 day weeks, 12 hour days working on the movie and the show. I feel like we really did deliver, not to belabor it, but in the past three years the show has won two programming Emmys, weíve had the movie come out and it was a $500 million movie and the ride, I believe, is a big success. After all that, Iím excited just to do the show, not just, but Iím excited because the show is so wonderful and Iím happy that is all I have to do right now.

Hal Thank you, again, for your time.

Moderator Thank you, and the next question in queue comes from the line of Rita Sherrow with Tulsa World. Please go ahead.

Rita Hello, thank you for taking the call. I was just wondering: will the kids ever grow up? Will it stay real in that this is a generation of kids who donít want to leave home, as opposed to the ones who canít wait to get away from home?

Al Weíve done episodes Ė a couple of years we did one where we saw the kids as teenagers and Homer and Marge were separated and it was set in the future. We have the ability to show you what they are like as adults or younger. In terms of the basic template for the show, my goal is always to return it to the where it started. Even if you donít like a particular episode, in the next week, youíre back in the same basic pattern and it could be a great episode with that same group of characters and situations that you love. Bugs Bunny never turned 80.

Rita Okay, thank you.

Moderator Thank you, and at this time, there are no additional questions in queue. Please continue.

W All right, thank you, everyone, for participating in the call, and donít forget to tune in this Sunday at 8:00 for the season premiere of The Simpsons, season 20.

Al Thank you very much.

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